Saturday afternoon, taking a break from the Exhibit Hall floor, I explored the upper levels of the newest part of the convention center, an area I hadn’t been in before. To get there, on a whim, I took the outside elevator that climbs at an angle beside the two stories of stairs. Kind of fun, but meant for wheelchair and disabled access, really.
Looking out the windows toward the east end of the convention center, I saw they’re building a small suspension bridge for people connecting Petco Park, the San Diego Padres baseball stadium with the Bayside Hilton, just east of the convention center. It will span busy Harbor Drive and the trolley tracks. Both things make for tough crossings in the entire area in front of the convention center.
This brought me to back hallways where people were lined up as far as I could see (at least the length of a football field, probably more) to get into one of the Hollywood panels in the biggest event room, which I think holds a few thousand people. This, to me is madness, the madness of line waiting in San Diego. No matter what it’s for, I can’t fathom spending so much of your time at the con doing this. “What’s the line for?” I asked one person. “The Josh Whedon Experience,” was the answer. See, that must be it, it’s not just an event, it’s an experience.
As I got further along and went outside, I realized the line was TWICE as long as I thought, because it began outside, wending along through a maze of velvet ropes all the way up past the same hallway inside. I had to go back to where the line entered the event room and ask a group of young ladies, “How long have you been waiting?” They answered, “Since 11:30.” So they’d been there at least three hours, it being then 2:30. The program would run from 3 PM until 3:45. Madness, I tell you.
Outside in the back, here’s that Hilton hotel, decked with a giant ad for the Scott Pilgrim film, and where I’d be for dinner and the Eisner Awards later.
Looking west, the nearest hotel on that side, The Marriott, also was covered in a giant sign, I hadn’t seen that one until now. And here’s the lovely open plaza area where I always try to get some fresh air each day. Directly south is the harbor, and one would think an area that must be free of advertising, but it’s not so this year.
Right opposite me was a large yacht obviously hired by Wowio as a party boat, and clever advertising site. If there’s a way to get ads in front of eyes, someone at this venue will find it.
Continuing around the newest part of the convention center at the top level walkway, you can now look down into the Sails area, where the autographing booths, art show and other things are. This used to be at the east end of the building. I went back inside that way.
Late afternoon I returned to my hotel by bus, had a brief nap, and typed up the previous post, then I needed to get back to the Hilton for the evening. I cut it too close, it’s about a seven block walk, so I took a bike taxi, hoping to speed my trip. This would have made for a few good pictures, but alas, I’d forgotten to bring the camera. Turned out the bike taxi guy had a rough time, the Exhibit Hall closes at 7, it was 7:15, so the streets were essentially packed and at a standstill. He had to backtrack about two blocks west, to opposite the Hyatt to get across Harbor Drive, then cut through the Marriott parking lot to reach the Hilton. It probably would have taken me about the same time to walk it, but he worked hard, and I tipped well. I was about 15 minutes late for dinner at Vela with some of the Vertigo folks, but no harm done, I caught up with the meal and the folks there, sitting next to Bill Willingham, and with DC editors Pornsak Pichetshote and Shelly Bond (it’s not San Diego until I’ve seen Shelly), as well as Steve Leialoha, Trina Robbins, Peter Gross, and Bill’s lady friend, whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten. Karen Berger was supposed to be hosting this dinner, but had to cancel because of a panel she was put on last minute, I think. We enjoyed ourselves, then went across the hotel to the Eisner Awards.
I decided to sit back in the general audience this year, something I haven’t done before. My experience was pretty much the same as sitting at the publisher tables up front, except that I needed to watch the large video monitors to see people’s facial expressions and actions clearly, and I wasn’t able to sit next to nominated friends to cheer them on. Otherwise, it was about the same: interesting, funny at times, moving at times, boring at times, and too long, about three hours. If I were in charge, I would leave out the obituary segment, or just make it a quick series of images without narration on the screens, and move some of the non-Eisner awards to another venue: the retailer award, the Bill Finger award, the Hall of Fame awards and the humanitarian award. The winners could be announced, but the ceremonies held earlier. The awards are plenty long enough without those additions.
You can read or watch detailed accounts of the event on the comics news sites: Newsarama, CBR and The Beat if you like. Here are my thoughts, briefly. I was happy for Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, who won two awards for their anime-style adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but being a longtime Oz fan, I prefer the original books by Baum and his illustrators. I was equally delighted for Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, winning for their BEASTS OF BURDEN, and Jill winning for best painted art. I loved the series. I was happy for wins by colorist Dave Stewart and Comics Reporter website writer Tom Spurgeon, whose work I admire. ASTERIOS POLYP won two awards, including Best Lettering, and I wasn’t surprised, it was a masterful work that I also loved. Kind of sad Tom Orzechowski didn’t win for lettering, though, I was rooting for him. I was disappointed that my friend J.H. Williams III couldn’t be there to hear the cheers and loud applause for his two award wins. I sat next to him several years when he was nominated and didn’t win, and I know he took it hard, and will be very happy about these. Had similar feelings about friend Michael Kaluta not being there for his Hall of Fame award. Michael was a regular at the con when I started coming, but he stopped attending a few years back when some of his art was stolen here. Many of the other awards were for things I haven’t read, and a number of books I work on and creators I work with didn’t win, so perhaps it’s just as well I wasn’t sitting next to them after all. I skipped the closing remarks and group photo and headed back to my room, dead tired, head hitting the pillow at 12:30 AM.
That’s it for Friday, more soon.